Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Genesis 47:13-31

There was no food, however, in the whole region because the famine was severe; both Egypt and Canaan wasted away because of the famine. (Genesis 47:13)

In the second part of chapter 47, we see how the severity of the famine increased - to the point that the people came to Joseph pleading for food. They willingly gave over to Pharaoh first their money, then their livestock, then their land, and, finally, themselves in servitude. Or as Jon Courson puts it in his four-point essay: each brought to the throne his purse, his possessions, his property, and his person! As they did this, Joseph took care of all of their needs in the midst of a horrible trial. In the same way, when we surrender all, bring everything we have and lay it before the throne of God, He meets all of our needs “according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:19)

While the people became slaves, they were able to keep four fifths of what they produced in crops, giving 20% back to Pharaoh. Did the people resent Joseph for placing them in servitude to Pharaoh? Verse 25 records their response:

“You have saved our lives,” they said. “May we find favor in the eyes of our lord; we will be in bondage to Pharaoh.”

And how did Jacob’s family fare?

Now the Israelites settled in Egypt in the region of Goshen. They acquired property there and were fruitful and increased greatly in number. (vs.27)

I love what Beth Moore says about this as it applies to our own lives:

“Verse 27 makes a fluorescent point: God can cause His children to prosper in the midst of terrible circumstances far from their Canaans. How? Obedience is the key. The Israelites were blessed in Egypt because God sent them there for a season to fulfill His good purposes. The land became their temporary shelter, making Egypt to Jacob what the ark was to Noah.” (The Patriarchs, P.224)

Now, we know that this servitude eventually caused the Israelites to despair of their place in Egypt, enough to be willing to leave and go back to the Promised Land. But it seems that since Egypt was a temporary place of salvation for his family, Jacob worried that they might get too comfortable there and forget God’s promises to Israel. For, in the final verses of this chapter, as Jacob sensed that his time to die was near, he called Joseph to his side to extract an important promise:

When the time drew near for Israel to die, he called for his son Joseph and said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, put your hand under my thigh and promise that you will show me kindness and faithfulness. Do not bury me in Egypt, but when I rest with my fathers, carry me out of Egypt and bury me where they are buried.”

“I will do as you say,” he said.

“Swear to me,” he said. Then Joseph swore to him, and Israel worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff. (vs. 29-31)

Basically, Jacob wanted to impress upon Joseph that this was NOT the land of their fathers! By forcing Joseph to swear to carrying his bones back to Canaan, Jacob was assuring that his descendants would not forget their real home.

What about us? Do we feel so at home in our own “Egypt” that we take our eyes off of our eternal “Canaan?” This chapter is a good reminder that our attitudes toward our life here on earth vs. our longing for our heavenly home will impact future generations. What do our children and grandchildren see in us? Do they see us desperately clinging to what we have and where we live? Do we look just like everyone else around us (especially easy to do in South Orange County)? Or do they see that we have fully surrendered it all, considering what God has given us as His to use for his glory? Are we training our families to look toward our real home? Something to think about. . .


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